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The Heidelberg Catechism (35) (Explained for Children)

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The Heidelberg Catechism (35) (Explained for Children)

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The catechism continues with the second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them....”

Question 96: What doth God require in the second commandment?

Answer: That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

The answer speaks of two things. First, we may not portray God, meaning that we may not make an image of the Lord, not a large image nor a small image. You know how the people of Israel when at Mount Sinai made a golden calf. They did this while Moses was with the Lord on the mountain.

Why did they do so? They wanted to see God with their eyes, and therefore they desired an image. One can bow before an image and can worship it. They desired to serve God in this way. God did not want to be served in this way, however, and therefore He severely punished them.

Second, we are to serve and worship God only in the way that He Himself desires. People may not determine how they want to serve God. He Himself has provided His Word. In the Bible God tells us how we must serve Him. It must be done in that way, and not in any other way. We ourselves are not to determine the way to serve God, and therefore we must always listen closely when God’s Word is read or preached to us.

Question 97: Are images then not at all to be made?

Answer: God neither can, nor may be represented by any means. But as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

We may not make any image of God. That is also not possible, for God is a Spirit. As to creatures, however, we may do so. We can and may make representations of people and of animals, which means that you can make an image or picture of a person. Statues have been made of famous people, such as presidents and generals. Pictures and paintings have been made of many, many people, and that is permissible; however, it must not be done to worship them. You may look at an image of a person, but you must not bow before the image, nor give the person divine honor. God alone is to be worshiped. Also we may not say that we use someone’s image to serve God by it.

Question 98: But may not images be tolerated in the churches as books to the laity?

Answer: No, for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have His people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word.

In Roman Catholic churches there are many images, such as of Mary, Peter, and others. The priests say that these images are used to teach people certain things, especially those who know very little about the Bible. If a person sees an image of Mary with the child Jesus in her lap, he understands it much better than if he is only told about it. They say such an image is actually the same as a book, an instruction book, such as those used for lessons at school.

But the question is then asked whether or not these images may be used in the churches. And the answer is “No.” Why not? People are not to think they are wiser than God. The Lord has said that He does not want images to be used in teaching us. He says that He desires people to learn by means of the lively preaching of His Word. For that reason the Lord provides ministers, servants of God, to teach people from His Word what is necessary for them. The ministers are to preach His Word. It is the preaching of His Word that God wants used to convert sinners. No, images are not necessary in addition to the preaching. God does not want this. Men are so sinful, pretending to know better themselves, indeed, thinking to be wiser than God.

We so often have wrong thoughts about serving God. For example, perhaps you think that if you live decently and attend church faithfully, then you are serving God. Of course, we must do so, for the Bible commands it. Then, however, we forget that the Lord also looks at our hearts; yes, He looks first at our hearts. Do we desire to serve the Lord with the heart? Do we desire to serve only Him? Do we love Him? People do not know this of us, for they cannot see into our hearts. The Lord does see our hearts.

Do you remember what the four commandments of the first table of the law required? It was to love God above all. Therefore we must ask, “Lord, teach me to serve Thee with my heart, with my whole heart, out of love unto Thee.”

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 september 2006

The Banner of Truth | 24 Pagina's

The Heidelberg Catechism (35) (Explained for Children)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 september 2006

The Banner of Truth | 24 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken